By JIT Mukherjii
Mumbai, 8th May: Maharashtra Revenue minister Narayan Rane got a blow when the High Court cancelled an order which was passed by him in a land case. A five acre plot near the Sahar airport was declared private from public and few years later, Rane reversed his own decision. The court came to know that the land is in occupation of the slum-dwellers.
The order was passed as a quasi-judicial authority under the Land Revenue Code. A division bench comprising of Justice Ferdino I Rebello and J H Bhatia said, “The question of recalling the order and upholding the earlier order in revision was arbitrary and illegal. When public revenue is involved inconsistent stand of the state leads to suspicion. This court must exercise its extraordinary jurisdiction, so that quasi-judicial authorities act within jurisdiction.
The plot was declared as government land in 1953. In 1995, the Gonsalves family, local residents, filed an appeal before then revenue minister Sudhir Joshi, who held the land to be a private property. In 1998, when the matter came up again before Rane, who was now the new revenue minister (then a Shiv Sena member), he decided against the Gonsalves family and handed over the plot to the state.
Esteem Properties, which had bought the land from the family, had challenged this decision before the HC in 2006 but later, withdrew the petition and approached Rane, who was again the revenue minister in the Congress-NCP government. In December 2007, Rane reversed his earlier order and handed the plot to Esteem Properties. The petitioners had alleged that Rane’s volte-face was aimed at benefiting Esteem Properties.
The HC stated that the 2007 order be set aside and the one passed in 1998 restored.